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USB or not USB... ADAT is the question

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USB or not USB... ADAT is the question

Postby Bungle1 » Thu Apr 14, 2011 8:54 pm

My trusty EMU 1820 PCI interface is not really geared up for what I need to be doing this year so I am looking into some options. I have been using a Behringer preamp hooked up via ADAT to record drums but have issues with the build quality plus the EMU breakout box sounds like something is loose inside which doesn't fill me with confidence.

I am wondering whether the best use of my money is investing in a total replacement like the Roland UA1010 which has 8 mic inputs or to purchase an 8 mic input preamp such as the focusrite octopre or MOTU 8pre and use it purely via ADAT to my existing EMU PCI card.

Having read some reviews the Roland unit is reportedly good with pretty good quality preamps and drivers however I have read some articles and forum posts claiming that USB 2.0 with anything more than 2 channels recording at a time are prone to dropouts etc so wondering which route to go - the number of PCI interfaces seems to have dropped massively to be replaced with USB so surely these issues can't be too much of a concern or they would not have become popular but then again most of them are lower number of mic inputs to the Roland so really confusing knowing which way to go. Over to you if you can offer any help...
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Re: USB or not USB... ADAT is the question

Postby Aftertouch » Sat Apr 16, 2011 1:13 am

A quote from an Apogee rep on why they chose USB 2 over over options:-

The reasons we chose USB for Duet 2 are as follows:
1. USB is available on the every Mac.
2. Latency performance is better.
With the Duet FireWire, we measured 4.6ms at 96k 32 buffer and 7.2ms at 44.1, 64 buffer.
With Duet 2 USB we measured 3.6ms at 96k 32 buffer and 5.8ms at 44.1, 64 buffer.

Chris Lawson
Apogee Electronics


USB has been more than capable for many years. Most people advising against it are basing their assumptions on outdated information or experience with older computers and/or interfaces.
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Re: USB or not USB... ADAT is the question

Postby Bob Moose » Sat Apr 16, 2011 2:15 am

Bungle1 wrote:however I have read some articles and forum posts claiming that USB 2.0 with anything more than 2 channels recording at a time are prone to dropouts etc
If it was really the case, RME or Apogee would not make any multichannel USB 2.0 interfaces ;)

I have the RME Fireface 400 (Firewire 400) which is very good, but if I was buying a new mobile audio interface now I would probably choose the RME Babyface (USB 2.0) or the Fireface UC (USB 2.0), though the latter cannot be bus-powered, which is not very handy in my opinion.

Maybe I am the only one to say this in the audio community, but I have never liked Firewire very much. The FW400 connector is very loose, and the FW800 connector is only slightly better.

Moreover, when plugging a FW device to a computer, both devices should be powered off.

Also, see the problems with non-TexasInstruments FW chipsets.

Finally, FW is progressively disappearing from standard computers, especially laptops. On most laptops it was already difficult to get the 6-pin FW400 socket that allows for powering devices (fortunately my old Macbook can do this and I use it on both Windows and OSX).

Admittedly FW800 is still the interface that allows maximum bitrates for mobile audio interfaces (though most FW800 interfaces are not that mobile). But it may be obsolete pretty soon -- network, fiber channel etc allow way faster transmissions.


Cheers
-j
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Re: USB or not USB... ADAT is the question

Postby Bungle1 » Sat Apr 16, 2011 11:13 am

This is really helpful for me thanks for your replies guys
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Re: USB or not USB... ADAT is the question

Postby zenguitar » Sat Apr 16, 2011 1:45 pm

Bungle1 wrote: ...however I have read some articles and forum posts claiming that USB 2.0 with anything more than 2 channels recording at a time are prone to dropouts etc...


I am sure that those reports are quite genuine, and there is an issue with USB2.0 that users should be aware of. USB2.0 is perfectly capable of handling multichannel audio without any problems. But the standard also includes backwards compatibility with the slower USB1.1 standard which was limited to about two channels of audio. When you plug USB1.1 devices into a USB2.0 bus it will still work, but it throttles back performance to USB1.1 levels.

So as long as you keep legacy USB1.1 devices off the same bus as your USB2.0 interface, there is no issue.

Andy :beamup:
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